“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to take former Rep. William Jefferson’s appeal of his 2009 corruption appeal, likely spelling the end of the line for his efforts to overturn his record 13-year prison sentence.
“As usual in such matters, the High Court didn’t give a reason. It would have taken affirmative votes by four of the nine justices to schedule oral arguments on the motion by Jefferson’s lawyers to throw out his conviction and schedule a new trial.
“The court said that Justice Elena Kagan, who served as the Justice Department’s solicitor generator for part of the Jefferson case, did not participate in the deliberations.
“Unless Jefferson’s lawyers uncover significant abuses by prosecutors, the former congressman’s fate now appears certain. The 65-year-old Harvard Law School graduate, who began serving his sentence at the low security Beaumont (Texas) Federal Correctional Institution in May, won’t win his release from prison until Aug. 30, 2023.
“His lawyers had argued that trial Judge T.S. Ellis III erred when he instructed the jury that official acts include "those activities that have been ‘clearly established by settled practice’ as part of his office."
“At issue was whether Jefferson’s conduct, demanding and accepting money and stocks in return for his help influencing leaders in western Africa to approve certain contracts, were part of his official acts as a member of Congress and therefore represented violations of federal bribery and related criminal statutes.”